Hiding behind ‘impartiality’: BBC casts doubts on real aim of Israel’s anti-terrorist fence

On January 14th 2013 the BBC News website ran a short item in its Middle East section concerning the funeral of 21 year-old Odai Darawish from the village of Dura. 

Odai Darawish

The article states:

“Odai Darawish, 21, was shot dead by Israeli troops while trying to cross the barrier separating Israel from the West Bank, his family said.”

The actual circumstances of the incident appear to be somewhat less simplistic than this article makes out. 

“According to Palestinian sources, the youth was shot as he attempted to flee soldiers on patrol in the area while he was on his way to Israel for work.

He was taken to the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheba, where he died of his wounds.

 The IDF said that around 3 pm the Palestinian attempted enter Israel illegally by breaching the security fence near the Meitar Crossing. An army unit that was dispatched to the scene initiated suspect arrest protocol, but the youth refused to heed the soldiers’ calls, prompting them to fire warning shots in the air.

When the suspected attempted to run, they shot his lower limbs, injuring him critically. He was unarmed.”

It would appear that Mr Darawish was not one of the tens of thousands of residents of the Palestinian Authority-controlled territories in possession of a permit to work legally in Israel.

The article continues: [emphasis added]

“Israel said it fired at a man at the barrier near Hebron on Saturday, without confirming it killed him.”

The sloppily-phrased claim “Israel said it fired” is presumably intended to mean that a representative of the IDF provided a statement on the subject. It is, however, doubtful that such a statement would include the phrase “at the barrier near Hebron”, because – as can be seen from the maps below – Hebron is at least 15 kilometers away from the Meitar Crossing, near which the incident took place. 

Meiter crossing

Security fence

Map Meitar crossing

The article goes on to say:

“Israel says the barrier is meant to protect it from attacks. Palestinians regard it as a means to grab land.”

Once again we see the use of the slippery phrase “Israel says” in a sentence clearly inserted in order to tick the BBC’s ‘impartiality’ box. Of course as anyone who lived through the terrible years of the second Intifada knows, the anti-terrorist fence is not just “meant” to protect Israeli civilians (rather than the BBC’s anonymous, non-human “Israel”) from terror attacks: that is precisely what the statistics show it does. 



That is also what leaders of various terror organisations say it does. 

“PIJ [Palestinian Islamic Jihad] leader Ramadan Abdallah Shalah was  interviewed in Damascus by the Qatari newspaper Al-Sharq. He said that the second intifada was currently characterized by rocket fire, which had replaced the previous stage of suicide bombing attacks. That, he said, was because the enemy [i.e., Israel] had found ways and means to protect itself from such attacks: “…For example, they built a separation fence in the West Bank. We do not deny that it limits the ability of the resistance [i.e., the terrorist organizations] to arrive deep within [Israeli territory] to carry out suicide bombing attacks, but the resistance has not surrendered or become helpless, and is looking for other ways to cope with the requirements of every stage [of the intifada]…” (Al-Sharq, March 23, 2008).”

“PIJ leader  Ramadan Abdallah Shalah told Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV that the terrorist organizations had no intention of abandoning suicide bombing attacks but that their timing and the possibility of carrying them out from the West Bank depended on other factors. “For example,” he said, “there is the separation fence which is an obstacle to the resistance [i.e., the terrorist organizations], and if it were not there, the situation would be entirely different(Al-Manar TV, November 11, 2006).”

“Mousa Abu Marzouq, deputy chairman of Hamas’s political bureau in Damascus, was asked by a group of Egyptian intellectuals and politicians why the suicide bombing activity had decreased during since the Hamas government came to power. He said that “[carrying out] such attacks is made difficult by the security fence and the gates surrounding West Bank residents.” (Abd al-Muaz Muhammad, Ikhwan Online, the Muslim Brotherhood Website, June 2, 2007).”

It is particularly galling to see an organization which has apparently just spent rather a lot of the British public’s money to protect its own employees against potential suicide bombings, casting doubts upon the means used by others to protect civilians from a distinctly more tangible threat – and engaging in the promotion of propaganda dreamed up by those who sent suicide bombers into Israel during the second Intifada to boot. 

Update: the BBC repeated the same claim in a separate article published on January 15th:

“Israel says the barrier is meant to protect it from militant attacks. Palestinians regard it as a means to grab land inside the West Bank.”

16 comments on “Hiding behind ‘impartiality’: BBC casts doubts on real aim of Israel’s anti-terrorist fence

  1. Whenever a BBC hack “reporting” on the Middle East types the words “Israel says,” no doubt it’s with a sneer and a curl of the lip. It’s simply a technique constantly employed to distance the BBC from the Israeli position, while presenting the technique as impartialtiy.

    It’s also bottom-of-the-barrel journalism since it would not take much effort to ascertain that the security wall/fence has in fact been spectacularly successful in protecting Israelis against terrorist attacks, whether Israel says it or not.

    I recall during a spate of rocket attacks from Gaza a BBC hack reported, “Israel says … rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel in the past … days.” It was too much effort, apparently, to contact an Israeli spokesperson, ascertain the number of rockets and just report the fact together with the source of the information. Or, gasp, do some actual journalism by going into Israel towns and reporting from those towns on the number of attacks. Much easier to hide behind “Israel says” – with the implication that the Israelis would say that, wouldn’t they.

    Lazy, biased reporting by lazy, biased “journalists.”

  2. Superbly explained, Hadar.

    Duvidl had not before seen the chart from the Israeli Consulate General in New York showing the effectiveness of the security barrier in stopping suicide bombers, nor the quotes from terrorist leaders themselves admitting that it is limiting their ability to perform suicide bombings.

    BBC Watch is doing an invaluable job exposing the BBC’s misrepresentation.

  3. In the space of about a week, 3 separate incidents involving ‘an innocent Palestinian’ being shot and killed near the security fence. One a farmer, one a student, and one ‘somebody on his way to work’.

    Each time the BBC has kindly obliged the Palestinians by predominantly presenting the incident as though they really were ‘just innocent bystanders legitimately going about their business when they were targeted by the evil Israelis’.

    Even assuming the Palestinian claim was valid, after the first incident, wouldn’t a cautious person avoid going near an area where they could be targeted? Certainly by the second ‘attack’, no sane person would venture near such an area – not to farm, not to study, and not on their way to work.

    But this is what the BBC wants you to believe, because that’s what the Palestinian agenda wants to have seen as the truth, despite common sense.

    There seems little doubt that this spate of incidents was planned in advance by the Palestinians to make the headlines in just this way, knowing the BBC and others would be complicit in presenting this viewpoint. Israel must fire on those who threaten its security for its survival. But it’s fair to assume that if the BBC functioned as it should, presenting the news in a fair and impartial manner, there would have been little point for the militants to get these people to ‘die for the cause’ in the name of propaganda.

    So in this way itself, the BBC shares responsibility for these deaths.

  4. The words “Israel says the barrier is meant to protect it from attacks. Palestinians regard it as a means to grab land.” seem to be a mantra that is automatically repeated any time the security barrier appears in an article.

    This is a similar tactic to the phrase: “the settlements are regarded as illegal under international law” – a seemingly sound assertion which in actuality is not backed up by facts.

    That’s the BBC for you.

  5. Lets call a spade a spade. Another day,another casual murder of an unarmed Palestinian by the bravest and truest heroes on earth. Followed by the usual outpouring of weasel words and pathetic hair-splitting. Thank god we can all sleep easy cos o’ the IDF!


  6. Pingback: BBC’s Davies continues to promote the Palestinian narrative on E1 | BBC Watch

  7. If the protection claim were true why isn’t it built on the green line borders?
    It’s built where it is to steal yet more Palestinian land and resources
    Isreal the only true kleptocracy in the Middle East

  8. Let’s see how to make it easier for the resident idiots who populate this website to understand, as well as the likes of William Hague et al.
    2 people are offered land by the international community to live on.
    One of these people doesn’t agree to this deal and want all the land.
    They try to force the second people off the land allocated to them – and lose.
    They are lucky the second people didn’t remove them completely for what they had tried to do, and instead tried to live with them in peace hoping eventually they would see that course as far more beneficial.
    But the obstinate and ignorant first people still tried to force the first people out of both lands. Again the second people saw they had no other choice but to make sure they had a more secure area to protect their own in the future.

    As years passed and the first people tried every tack to achieve their goal, including coercion of the international community, since the second people were only a tiny minority, the latter just made it clear to the first people that they were not going to allow the former to get what they want by any means, and would make the best that they could of a ridiculous and non-desirable situation perpetrated continually by the first people.

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